A recent study performed by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania examined how SMS messaging could help the situation. It turns out in the US, many mothers do not go to their follow up visits. The numbers differ, but somewhere between 70% and “less than half” just simply give birth and don’t visit their doctor again within the next year.
The Penn study decided to take at-risk women and offer them SMS reminders to take their blood pressure (the key indicator for preeclampsia) at home, then text back the results to their doctor.
Before leaving the hospital the women were given blood pressure monitoring equipment. Then they received SMS reminders to check their blood pressure for seven days following their discharge from the hospital.
The medical staff would review the numbers sent in by the women. If the numbers indicated a rise in blood pressure that was concerning, the woman would receive an SMS message back with instructions. She may be asked to take the numbers again, be directed to make an appointment, or to seek immediate care.
The results of the study were that 65% of the women continued to monitor their blood pressure and send in values for at least five of the seven days. Two women were identified as needing oral medications to control their increasing blood pressure.
Due to the small sample size (only 32 women), senior author of the study Sindhu Srinivas said, “Further studies are necessary to determine the widespread efficacy of adopting telemedicine platforms for obstetrics care, but by all indications, it could become a cost-conscious way to improve care for patients, allowing them the convenience of staying home and lowering their risks of readmissions or complications”.